I'm running fatsort on Debian Jessie. It only works when being logged in as root.

As unprivileged user:

fatsort /dev/sdh
openFileSystem: Permission denied!
sortFileSystem: Failed to open file system!
main: Failed to sort file system!

As root:

fatsort /dev/sdh
File system: FAT32.

Sorting directory /

I'm pretty sure it used to work as unprivileged user back in June 2012, but some security restrictions must have been applied since then.

fatsort's Debian package maintainer says this is not due to fatsort itself but "is a general permission issue on [my] system".

I'm clueless about where to search about that.

I can live with that restriction but I would like to understand what changed. And I'd be happy if I could add some specific privilege to my user to let it use fatsort seamlessly.

My groups :

jerome cdrom floppy audio dip video plugdev netdev lpadmin scanner bluetooth

Edit: groups changed in Jessie


To manage removable drives without root privileges, you have to use the groups cdrom for optical drives. Optical drives can usually be mounted in according to the rules in /etc/fstab, but for other removable drives the group plugdev may be more practical. Starting with Debian 8 (Jessie) you need root privileges to format USB and flash memories, because their devices in /dev/ do not belong to the group floppy anymore.

This explains why it used to work and does not anymore.

I'm still interested in a way to let the user use FATSort without giving him all root permissions. I guess what I'm asking is move back to the situation before Jessie where users in floppy group could manage USB storage devices. There must be a good reason for that change, but I see a drawback in terms of user experience.

BTW, although I can't use FATSort like this, I can format a USB key using gnome-disk-utility, so there must be ways to provide exceptions to the rule.


You should add the user to disk group , as root run:

usermod -a -G disk USER

NB : Adding USER to disk group is equivalent to grant the root access.

As user run:

fatsort /dev/sdh
  • I'd rather avoid giving all root permissions to a simple user (bad practice). But thanks for the hint. I edited my question with further information. – Jérôme Jan 16 '17 at 15:58

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